Friday, June 6, 2008

Back in Lovely Golden Valley

Thank you everyone for your kind words and thoughts. It helped so much to know that you were thinking of my family this week.

Going home for my dad's funeral was pretty horrible and pretty amazing. Horrible, of course, because we lost our dad. Amazing because of the outpouring of support. We were overwhelmed with cards and floral arrangements, garden plants and house plants, gifts and food. Cheesecake Maven even delivered a white chocolate chip raspberry cheesecake that my family had devoured completely by Thursday afternoon.

My dad's visitation (Lutheran version of a wake) went great. People started arriving over an hour early and it ran almost an hour late. It was so great to hear stories about my dad from people who have known him most his life. People laughed about his stubbornness, but talked more about his generosity. I was amazed by the number of folks who said that my dad's generosity changed their lives- help with home down-payments, helping to save struggling farms, helping when bad luck would strike or smaller gestures like buying meals or just giving people a break. He wouldn't spend a dime on himself, but would sure spend it on others. Very cool. It was really hard to see his good friends deal with the loss. Most are 80 or older and I think were looking at their own mortality as they contemplated my dad's. We were all glad to be there for them.

The funeral service was tough, of course. It was at our little country church 14 miles from town, off two gravel roads and surrounded on 4 sides by corn. This was where my dad was raised and where we went to church as kids. There were several remembrances from us kids, two grandkids, one of his caregivers and one of his former truck drivers. It was nice that no one tried to make dad out as a saint. He was as flawed as anyone, but we were able to laugh at the things that frustrated us most and reflect on the characteristics that made him great.

If you've never been to a Lutheran post-funeral lunch, you must find one to go to. Scalloped potatoes and ham, chicken and rice, macaroni salads, funeral burgers (hamburger bun sliced in half, buttered with ham, served open faced) and lots of homemade cakes. This is the best comfort food on earth and I highly recommend it.

Today, my family met to talk about what to do with the house and some of dad's belongings. Though some of the quieter members of the family got steam rolled in the conversations, I think we all came out of it okay. It was a tough conversation to have when emotions are running so high.

Curt and I took a leisurely trip back to Golden Valley, stopping at two nurseries along the way. The dogs were thrilled to see us. The gardens looked glorious, if not a little wind blown. All is good in the world, though just a bit emptier without my dad.


Mnmom said...

I'll be up soon, maybe next weekend

Scott J. said...

It was so nice to finally meet Curt and I look forward to meeting him again, on some happier occasion.

If there's anything I can do for you down here, just let me know.

Dale said...

I'm sorry for your loss but glad you got to hear such great things about your dad.

Cheesecake Maven said...

You know there's a cheesecake or at least some batter waiting here for you anytime you need it! Just give a jingle when next you're in town!

The funeral service for your dad was beautifully done, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. The tribute you wrote about him was wonderful! Good to meet some more of the Groth clan, fun family!

Funeral food? Yep, the Lutherans win, hands down. Period. That chicken/rice casserole they all make is to die for! (Pun intended.) But seriously, take MG's advice here and find a good, small town Lutheran funeral to crash just for the experience of the potatoes and chicken casserole. I think it may actually be a capon casserole in the purest Lutheran churches in this area.